Gosh, has it really been that long? I have come to the conclusion that I am not very good at blogging. Writing effort goes into novels or tweets (if you want to scare yourself, try calculating how many words you have written in tweets – you will have produced several encyclopedias worth).

But, I have not been entirely idle, just mostly. I have been reading. And when I say reading, I mean building a cave of books and charging in wearing my hat with a light on. I think it’s no coincidence that the period when I didn’t read, around 10 years, when I was either studying or building my career by working stupid hours, I barely wrote anything. When I started reading, the writing started flowing too.


Reading is like practice writing: you are watching someone else doing it and learning from them. When I read someone like Margaret Atwood, my reaction is generally wow – how can I make words perform like this? When I read other things – no names mentioned – I wonder how on earth it got published/ shortlisted for an award.

I have been asked whether this type of critical reading spoils the enjoyment of the book and the answer is no. I love a book where I can get lost and then the thought comes afterwards. With many books, working out why I don’t like it is often the only way to get to the end. Either way, the simple act of opening a book at the bookmark (NB there is no hell to low for people who turn down the corners of book pages) is still one of the most exciting moments of the day…